5 simple steps to generate less (plastic) waste

Are you slightly eco-anxious about how much plastic waste you produce? Yeah, we are too.

Not to worry though - we compiled this easy-to-follow 5 step list on how to make your everyday a little less trashy! 

On a daily basis, there are many things that we happen to take for granted, especially us living in more privileged parts of our planet. For example, we expect that the disposable cup that we throw away to the bin, after we are done with it, will be taken care of. If it disappears from in front of us - that must mean it disappears entirely. Unfortunately, that is not how it works. It’s rather ironic that the material that most of disposables (so things that are used just ONCE) are made of, plastic (and even the “paper” cups are lined with plastic!), is essentially indestructible. 

Every piece of plastic that we have ever produced is still on the surface of the Earth in one form or another. It is the type of material that takes hundreds or thousands of years to break down and even if it does, it does not disappear - it just splits into smaller pieces - micro plastics. If you haven’t had the chance yet - take a look at either “Plastic China” or “Plastic Ocean” (the latter is available on Netflix), which both introduce you to some staggering numbers. After you have seen the movie(s) and you are properly shaken (and you will be for sure) - come back here and check out the list below, because we are here to help with your eco-anxiety. 

Now, we are far from perfect, but we are also strong advocates of the idea, that small steps always matter. That’s why we compiled this small list for you! We would like to show you how to generate less waste, mainly plastic one. 

1. Say no to pre-packaged vegetables in supermarkets.

Vegetables can be bought package-free on wet markets, where they also have bulk for rice, noodles, bulgur, soy… Come with your re-usable box, jar or any other container and fill it up. There are also loads of vegetable delivery companies that source from local farms - Eat Fresh, Magic Season Organics, Evergreen Republic to name just a few. Most of them offer convenient to-door delivery with no plastic packaging. It is probably also a better choice when it comes to nutrition, since most of vegetables in supermarkets come from China and are filled with pesticides. A win win really.

2. Invest in your own water bottle, food container and cutlery set.

Do a little simple math and count all the pieces of plastic that you dispose of during your take-away lunch (most usually a styrofoam container, fork and knife or a thin plastic cover for the disposable chopstick, a spoon, a straw, plus a plastic bottle) or flight. Most places we have tried have no problem with filling your cup/container with drinks and food. Also, why not getting your own office mug? A call to action for all co-working spaces seems to be in place here - what about providing your members with cups that they can use in your spaces and going easy on these plastic and paper cups? We know some of the spaces already do it - shout out to The Hive in Kennedy Town and Mettā (the latter invested in metal reusable straws - yay you guys!).

3. Re-use your containers.

Change does not happen overnight, and like all of us you probably have many containers at home that are either already empty or will be sometime. This time, maybe don’t throw them away? Empty detergent bottles, jars, milk cartoons, metal cans - they can all be reused in one way or another! As an example, Oatly encourages their customers to re-use their oat milk cartoons as flower pots! Places like LiveZero, a zero-waste shop in Sai Ying Pun allows you to donate and share your empty containers (and re-use the other donated ones while shopping). In WOMB, for example, instead of producing new branded packaging, we use discarded boxes to ship products worldwide.

Reuse your containers! Img: @aina.zholudeva via Twenty20

Reuse your containers! Img: @aina.zholudeva via Twenty20

4. Tote bags y’all!

This cannot be stressed enough, but tote bags are probably the easiest thing to enter your everyday routine - super light, super easy to carry everywhere and they fix the problem of plastic bags once and for all. If they get dirty, you can just wash them. Enough said.

5. Go for bamboo toothbrush and plastic-package free cosmetics.

There so many options beyond plastic toothbrushes that we really don’t understand why they are even still used. Loads of beauty brands build their whole image on minimal packaging - like Lush or Ethique. General rule of thumb is - if it needs to be packaged, at least let it be paper, not plastic. 

We need to stress our core message here - it’s really not about going zero-waste, we don’t have to be zero-wasters! We do feel that reducing your waste to a non-existent level is very hard and sometimes impossible, especially in societies that we live in. But we hope to have demonstrated above, that there are certain steps that we could all take to alleviate the pain and burden that we place on our planet. It is really not such big of a deal to carry around a tote bag and water bottle, or say no to a plastic bag when you can carry these few groceries in your hands. We need to become more reasonable, because we are just spoiled with convenient options that have been around for so many years. There is no other reason for us to use plastic in such excess than pure convenience, and of course it’s always harder to give up a convenient habit. That’s why we are asking you: go challenge yourself, step out of the obvious plastic-lined comfort zone and help our planet breathe a little deeper.